Dina Asher-Smith, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Ben Williams among winners on day one of England Athletics U23 and U20 Championships
Although an unpredictable wind led to a handful of athletes being denied personal bests and qualifying times in the 100m, warm and sunny weather led to plenty of high quality competitions on the opening day of the England Athletics Under-23 and Under-20 Championships, which double as the trials for the World Junior Championships in Eugene next month.
With British women’s sprinting arguably on a steep upward curve, the under-20 women’s 100m was dubbed as one of the races of the championships and it did not disappoint. Dina Asher-Smith took the title in her fastest ever clocking of 11.11, albeit with an illegal wind of +3.0, and Desiree Henry finished second in 11.24. With both athletes in top form and entered in the 200m tomorrow, it looks set to be a rematch from last year’s European Junior Championships, when Asher-Smith led a British one-two over Henry.
Meanwhile, in the under-23 event running fresh from a 6682 point heptathlon score that places her third on the British all-time list, Katarina Johnson-Thompson further emphasised her huge talent by beating the sprint specialists to take the 100m crown in 11.30 (+3.5). However, perhaps the most outstanding performance in the 100m came from Kieran Daly, who not only clocked a legal personal best of 10.18 to emerge a surprise winner, but also bagged himself a European Championships qualifying time. Reuben Arthur took the under-20 men’s equivalent after the disqualification of pre-race favourite Ojie Edeburun, thus booking his place for Eugene.
Adam Hague was another to secure his place at the World Juniors after winning a high quality pole vault competition with a PB of 5.30m. Last year’s World Youth champion Harry Coppell finished joint second with Rowan May on 5.20m. “That was my best ever competition,” reflected Hague. “I hadn’t expected to win, but now I have secured selection, I can relax and enjoy vaulting before the World Juniors.”
Taylor Campbell is another set to be on the plane to Eugene after winning the hammer with 69.13m. Having achieved the qualifying distance back in March with the senior implement, Campbell was less than satisfied with his distance today. “That was a messy competition. However, I have ensured selection and my training has been designed for World Juniors,” he revealed.
It seemed nobody was more delighted with their performance than 2009 World Youth champion Ben Williams in the triple jump. In his first full season since he became a global champion, Williams finally bettered his five-year-old PB with a leap of 16.31m and what’s more, he feels there is more to come. “After improving in the indoor season, I knew a PB was on the cards, but today has really boosted my confidence. I had an even bigger jump that was only a marginal no jump, so I really feel I can move up in the sport. My main targets are to avoid injury and to gain selection for the European Championships,” explained Williams.
Phoebe Lawson won the under-23 discus in a contest which ultimately came down to the wire, after she and Shadine Duquemin both threw 51.12m, meaning the verdict went down to who had thrown further on their second best throw.
Elsewhere, Amy Griffiths overtook Bobby Clay to win the under-20 1500m, with both athletes already in possession of the qualifying time, while Melissa Courtney continued her outstanding season to take the under-23 equivalent. Will Gray and Mike Vennard took the respective under-23 and under-20 3000m steeplechase titles. Adele Nicoll took the under-20 shot title with 14.23m, Commonwealth Games-bound Allan Smith won the under-23 high jump with 2.14m, Jonny Hay took the 5000m after a last lap burn up and Rebecca Chapman won the under-23 long jump.
As well as the highly anticipated 200m events, highlights tomorrow include Northern Ireland’s Commonwealth Games athlete Katie Kirk battling it out with the in-form BUCS 800m champion Hanna Tarver, last year’s European Junior Champion Hayley McLean in her specialist 400m hurdles event and some classic rivalries over the flat one lap event which notably include a tussle between last year’s World Youth champion Sabina Bakare and Commonwealth Games hopeful Victoria Ohuruogu. Johnson-Thompson is also entered in the 100m hurdles, while fellow upcoming multi-event talent Morgan Lake is entered for the long jump.
» See next week’s AW, out Thursday June 26, for more in-depth coverage